Remember When Kenny Rogers Covered One of Blake Shelton’s Biggest Hits? [Listen]
Some old-timers might recognize Blake Shelton's 2002 hit "Ol' Red" as a cover of a George Jones original, but did you know that Kenny Rogers also recorded the song?
The Possum first recorded the song way back in 1990, and Shelton reimagined it 12 years later on his debut record. The song did not break the Top 10, but it's such a fan favorite that many regard it as Shelton's signature song.
You might be surprised to learn that Shelton wasn't the first to cover this tune, which tells the story of a canine-aided prison break at a Georgia penitentiary. Just three years after Jones' original cut, the late, great Kenny Rogers covered it for his album If Only My Heart Had a Voice.
Younger country fans are probably most familiar with Shelton's mesmerizing version that sounds like a real nod to classic country. It was made even more memorable with a cinematic music video that illustrates the story of a clever prison break that dog lovers might especially appreciate. The steady, grooving tempo matches the prisoner protagonist's patient and prolonged plot to escape with the aid of his trusty bloodhound, while Shelton's drawling baritone immerses the listener in the swampy South Georgia prison farm where the song's story takes place.
Shelton's version stays true to Jones' twangy and moody original, while Rogers' 1993 version puts a more pop-rock spin on the tale of this jailbird's long con. Rogers' cover sets a faster tempo and employs the electric guitar and keyboard sounds of early 90's country to create a more rousing steering wheel slapper than Shelton's gloomy groove. While Shelton stays a bit truer to the original, Rogers' cut sounds fresh and fun. Rogers' ability to create crossover hits and bring new fans to country music will be one of his contributions we will miss most.
Which version do you like better?
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